How to protect your pipes from Freezing and Bursting

Waking up to a freezing home on a winter’s morning; it’s the last thing you want! Your pipes have frozen over the night. Although winter in the UK is not as severe as in other parts of the world, the danger of frozen pipes is very real.

In fact, countries with milder winters are more likely to experience burst pipes, when the temperatures suddenly drop. This is because cold snaps come unexpected, and pipes are often not insulated or are even placed outside.

Instead of walking on thin ice this season, make sure to prepare your plumbing system for the cold. Follow these simple steps, to avoid a battle with Jack Frost:

  1. Insulate exposed water pipes and water tanks.
    Ensure any gaps are sealed, including the holes where pipes run through walls or floors. If you can feel cold air coming in, it’s time to get working.
  2. Let the cold water drip from the faucet, if it’s served by an exposed pipe.
    When it’s freezing outside, a small trickle can help release the pressure in your pipes. After all pipes burst, because the cold water inside them expands, which increases pressure inside the pipe. When the pressure gets too high the pipe cracks. And fixing a burst pipe is a lot more expensive than letting the faucet drip.
  3. Make sure your boiler is serviced regularly.
    If your boiler can push heat through the pipes, they will be a lot less likely to fall victims to the cold. Boiler servicing is best done in the summer, so you can have it ready and steady when the frost strikes. For added peace of mind, check our Care Club Homeowner plans.
  4. Know where your internal stopcock is.
    In case you didn’t know, a stopcock is the control tap for the water in your property. You might need to turn it off, if a pipe bursts. Most stopcocks are fitted under the kitchen sink and close by turning clockwise. If you can’t locate your stopcock, consider asking a neighbour as they may be able to show you if they have a similar property to you.
  5. If you’re going on holiday, make sure you leave the heating on low.
    This will keep the heat circulating through the pipes and prevent them from freezing. Ask a neighbor or a friend to regularly check on the property as well. If your pipes end up freezing, the sooner you act, the better.

If the cold still catches you off-guard and your water pipes end up freezing, make sure to:

  1. Check if the pipe has burst, before you apply any heat.
  2. If the pipe is not damaged, you can attempt to warm it up. Wrap the pipe in a towel, soaked in hot water, starting from the end nearest to the tap. Pour hot but NOT BOILING water over the frozen area.
  3. Call an expert as soon as possible. The best way to ensure no further damage is to have an experienced professional handle the issue. You can book one of our plumbing engineers.

DO NOT in any case:

  1. Apply heat directly as this can cause permanent damage to the pipes or even lead to a fire.
  2. Try to strike the pipes. You risk not only breaking the ice but the pipe as well.

Most importantly – if you encounter a burst pipe call a plumber immediately. Keep a watchful eye on your pipe until the plumber arrives.

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